AMD Turns Its Attention to Low-Cost Notebook, Ultraportable Laptop Markets

Advanced Micro Devices launches its 45-nanometer Opteron processor for high-end server systems and a new graphics chip for HPC, and describes how it plans to enter the low-cost notebook or netbook market. The low-cost notebook market has been dominated by the Intel Atom processor, which has spawned new netbook laptops from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. In addition to a platform for low-cost notebooks, code-named Yukon, AMD is also planning to introduce 45-nm desktop processors in 2009.

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Advanced Micro Devices is planning to enter the low-cost notebook and ultraportable laptop markets in 2009 with new processors and platforms that will compete with the Intel Atom microprocessor.

After sending mixed signals about whether AMD will enter the so-called netbook market, Randy Allen, senior vice president for AMD's Computing Solutions Group, told analysts Nov. 13 that the company would enter the market in 2009 with a platform called "Yukon" that will combine a processor, graphics and chip set.

While AMD has been focusing on the launch of its 45-nanometer Opteron processor, rumors started to gather that the company would enter the low-cost notebook market. Allen confirmed those rumors when he spoke during AMD's annual meeting with Wall Street analysts at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., campus Nov. 13.

During his talk, Allen said AMD wanted to focus on offering a better PC experience with these ultraportable and low-cost notebooks. Specifically, Allen said AMD wanted to offer better performance for business users who have started taking these laptops on the road and on airplanes.

"What I hear from customers is that they really like the form factor but they don't like the PC experience, and so as part of our road map we have developed a platform that combines processor, graphics and chip set that will squarely target that market," Allen said.

While AMD will target small form-factor notebooks that have displays as compact as 10 inches, Allen said the company does not want to compete against Intel when it comes to MIDs (mobile Internet devices) that use a different version of the Atom processor.

Right now, Intel dominates this low-cost and ultraportable market with its Atom processor and platform. In addition, some of the world's largest PC vendors-Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Acer-have jumped into the market due to the success of Asustek Computer's Eee PC.

The shift toward low-cost and very portable notebooks helped propel the market in the third quarter of 2008 despite the economic downturn, according to IDC, a shift that appears to have been too tempting for AMD to resist.

While Allen did not delve into specifics, his presentation offered some guidance as to when and where AMD plans to bring in some new platforms and processors for ultraportable and low-cost notebooks as well as new products for mainstream notebooks and desktops.